Zadie Smith, Intimations | Photo: Jonathan VanAntwerpen

“If you make things, if you are an ‘artist’ of whatever stripe, at some point you will be asked — or may ask yourself — ‘why’ you act, sculpt, paint, whatever. In the writing world, this question never seems to get old. In each generation, a few too many people will feel moved to pen an essay called, inevitably, ‘Why I Write’ or ‘Why Write?’ under which title you’ll find a lot of convoluted, more or less self-regarding reasons and explanations. (I’ve contributed to this genre myself.) Only a few of them are any good and none of them (including my own) see fit to mention the surest motivation I know, the one I feel deepest within myself, and which, when all is said, done, and stripped away — as it is at the moment — seems to be at the truth of the matter for a lot of people, to wit: it’s something to do. I used to stand at podiums or in front of my own students and have that answer on the tip of my tongue, but knew if I said it aloud it would be mistaken for a joke or fake humility or perhaps plain stupidity…Now I am gratified to find this most honest of phrases in everybody’s mouths all of a sudden, and in answer to almost every question. Why did you bake banana bread? It was something to do. Why did you make a fort in your living room? Well, it’s something to do….”

from Zadie Smith’s Intimations